Capturing the Voice of the Customer: Kano Model of Customer Satisfaction

Posted on January 26, 2013 by


Developed by Kano et al (1984), the Kano Model of Customer Satisfaction attempts to quantitatively define the relationship between product or service attributes and customer satisfaction.  The model attempts to build on Quality Functional Deployment (QFD) by using surveys and other tools to identify attributes that are important to the customer and quantify their weight in relation to customer satisfaction by correlational analysis. The Kano Model defines product/service attributes as:

  • “Must Be” – Absence creates absolute dissatisfaction but the presence doesn’t increase satisfaction because the customer expects it
  • “Indifferent” – Presence or absence of the attributes has no influence on customer satisfaction
  • “Reverse” – Presence causes dissatisfaction and absence causes satisfaction
  • “Attractive” – Presence creates greater satisfaction because the customer didn’t expect it but appreciates it; absence has no influence because the customer did not expect it to begin with
  • “One Dimensional” – Presence helps increase customer satisfaction, absence decreases it.

Organizations have used the Kano Model to identify ways to improve the customer experience and capture the voice of the customer in their product/service design and delivery based on the strength or weakness of the relationship of the various attributes.  An example would be the bridal gown shopping experience.  For the bride-to-be, the presence of a dressing room that accommodates the bride-to-be and her guests as well as an attentive bridal consultant are considered “must be” attributes.  The bride-to-be expects the presence of these factors as she seeks the dress of her dreams.  Having champagne or other beverages and snacks available during her quest are considered “attractive” attributes as they may be niceties that the bride-to-be did not expect but appreciates.  Based on her experience and the presence of those key attributes, she will be more likely to refer her friends to the bridal shop.  Another example would be the service lane experience at a dealership.  The customer comes for an oil change and expects the dealership to have the products needed at a reasonable price and a clean waiting area (must be attributes).  The customer may be pleasantly surprised to find freshly popped popcorn and a selection of hot and cold beverages (attractive attributes). Because of the presence of these attributes, the customer may be more likely to return to that dealership for preventative maintenance and refer friends as well.

Organizations would do well to identify key customer wants and then communicate those attributes to the workforce to help them better understand the expectations fo the customer.  Referring back to the bridal shop example, because the consultants know that the bride-to-be seeks a catered experience, they internalize the customer voice and engage in activities that give the bride-to-be and her guests that experience.  In the case of the dealership service lane example, because the workers know how valuable the customer’s time is to them and the importance of having niceties while waiting, they will ensure that the waiting room is clean, refreshments are available and fresh, and that the products needed for the service (oil change) are in stock and readily available.  In both instances, the workers engage in customer-centric behavior based on their knowledge and understanding of the voice of the customer.  By understanding the customer wants and expectations, the workforce can internalize as a value the voice of the customer.  More importantly, they can ensure that those values are built into the product or service and considered throughout the continuous improvement process.

Ullah, A.M.M. & Tamakl, J. (2011) Analysis of Kano Model-Based Customer Needs for Product Development. Systems Engineering, 14(2), 154-172. doi:10.1002/sys.20168